The Mahabharata is one of the major and well written Sanskrit epics of Ancient India. Like any other epics, it has hundreds of parallel stories of its characters. Sanjaya—one of such characters, having the ability of seeing events at a distance almost 80 KM of the length right in front of him, granted by the sage Vyasa—narrates the action in the epic battle of Kurukshetra to the blind king Dhritarashtra. We see the whole battle mostly through his eyes (also consolidated as Bhagavad Gita).
Here is one of such pieces of those parallel stories about Sanjaya (I am not sure about the authenticity, but it doesn’t matter in the end, so I insist you to read the whole story).
According to Mahabharata, it is believed that at that time, almost 80% of male population died in the 18-day-battle of Kurukshetra.
When the battle ends, Sanjaya goes to visit the empty battle field to listen to the silence after the storm. He starts to wonder, whether the piece of earth where he is standing, really swallowed the blood of valiant and magnificent Pandavas and Kauravas. When he is submerged into his thoughts, suddenly a heavy shaking old voice rings his ears, “You will never know the truth, son.”
Sanjaya turns toward the voice and sees an aged but sturdy man coming out of the dust and mist. “Who are you,” he asks.
“I know son, you have a lot of questions, but you will never know, until you try to realize what really happened here,” smiles the old voice.
“What do you mean?”
“Kurukshetra is an example, may be its reality, or may be a philosophy, may be it never happened or may be it happens with everyone, everyday”, continues the old man with a glimpse of smile is his lips.
“Tell me about that philosophy then,” Sanjaya demands.
“Pandavas are the five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. And do you know who the Kauravas are? They are your hundred iniquities, constantly in war with your five senses. Do you know when?”
Sanjaya shakes his head with hesitation.
“When Krishna becomes your charioteer,” smiles the old man, playing with his patience.
Sanjaya brightens his eyes with astonishment.
“Krishna is your inner voice, your soul, your pioneering lights,” the man goes on.
“Then, if Kauravas were so wrong, why grandfather Bhishma, Droņacharya fought on their side?”
“It means, when you grow up, your general notions towards your life and other lives around you grow up too. What were seemed correct and perfect in your childhood, later sometimes turn out to be wrong. The more you grow up, the more you realize nothing is perfect and absolute. There is no absolute righteousness or iniquitousness. It clouds your judgement. You fight with yourself, but how long. Then you sometimes decide to stay with your darker side.”
“Then who was Karna?”
“Ah, yes, The most beautiful question, I was waiting for this one.” the man smiles again, “Karna is the brother of your senses. He is the desire. He is always a part of you, yet roams around all your imperfections, faults and weaknesses. Although he regrets his action and feels pain in heart, he manages to come up with excuses to advocate himself. Don’t your desires sometimes do the same?”
Sanjaya silently shakes his head, looks down. Millions of questions agitates his mind. He has now more questions than before. He looks up to the old man to ask more but he can’t find anyone. All he can see is something fading into into the dust and mist again, leaving behind a small piece of philosophy of life.